124.693/1–2550: Telegram

The Minister in Bulgaria (Heath) to the Secretary of State

top secret

102. ReDeptel 73.1 As Department will recall from secret despatch 534, December 8, 1948,2 Foreign Office informs us in writing that Peev and Dimitrov3 had been sentenced to death for espionage. Later we heard on good authority their appeals against this sentence had been refused. On several occasions in conversation with Kamenov (Legtel 815 Department 292) I made the statement that these 2 men had been executed and there was no contradiction of this statement. Six months ago available Bulgarian friend of Dimitrov’s reported he had heard on good authority latter was shot (Legtel 471 June 92).

We had taken for granted then that these two had met their deaths. It is only today, however that we have received any information tending to cast any doubt on the actual executions. …

[Page 509]

To sum up, we have been officially informed that Peev and Dimitrov sentenced to death. Neither my oral allegations nor the Department’s formal statement in its note of January 204 of these executions have been denied. We have recently, however, heard unconfirmed reports that the death sentence was not actually carried out.

There is no doubt that Seculov5 is dead nor were my statements to that effect even contested by Kamenov (Legtel 764, December 8 top secret6).

In addition to these instances there is the fact of the arrest of Dimiter Petrov7 (Legtel 9, January 56). Inquiries by Legation met the reply that they had been imprisoned for offenses not concerned with his employment by Legation (Legtel 25, January 126).

Mimir Balabanov was tried at same time as first two named this telegram and was sentenced, we understand, to ten years confinement. She was not strictly speaking an employee of Legation but housekeeper of Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Wade, formerly treaty officer of this mission. She was, of course, innocent and to seize her militia violated diplomatic property by arresting her in cottage closely adjoining Wade’s house and which was marked at all entrances as being under Legation protection.

The following cases should not be made public since most of those concerned are presumably still at liberty and publicity would certainly bring about their arrest, if not worse.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  1. Not printed. It asked for information on the fate of those former employees of the American Military Mission in Bulgaria or the American Legation who had been persecuted by the Bulgarian Government (124.693/1–2450).
  2. Not printed.
  3. Joseph Dimitrov was a former employee of the American Military Mission in Bulgaria which was disbanded in September 1947. Dimitrov and Dragan Peev, another former employee, were condemned to death on August 7, 1948 following a secret trial by a Bulgarian court to which the American Legation was not allowed to send an observer.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Supra.
  7. Ivan Seculov, a former secretary of the Bulgarian Regency Council, 1943–1944, who subsequently served as a translator in the American Military Mission in Bulgaria and the Legation until forced to resign in May 1949 by the Bulgarian security police. Seculov apparently died while under arrest in August 1949. For a fuller account of the fate of Seculov, see telegram 642, August 1, 1949, from Sofia, Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. v, p. 339.
  8. Not printed.
  9. Bulgarian caretaker of the Legation residence.
  10. Not printed.
  11. Not printed.